Out at Night: Great gay bars in Berlin
Gay visitors to Berlin are spoilt for choice: gay bars with delicious drinks tempt you everywhere in the city. Our author Florian knows them all - almost all, anyway! He presents his five favourite bars For Place2be.Berlin.
Himmelreich in Friedrichshain: A Cherub's Paradise
In Himmelreich, gays, lesbians & co. coexist harmoniously, which is great, that's how it should be! 90s music is played for the rather young audience, who are bathed in orange-yellow spotlights beneath wall-mounted cherubs, in every shape and form. This bar is heaven for queer millennials in the middle of the Simon Dach neighbourhood, which is often considered over-gentrified. Under stucco and flickering candles, you can lounge on cocktail chairs, sip long drinks, smoke in the smoking room, or people-watch on the large terrace, which closes around midnight. It also gets crowded here during the week. Since Corona, the bar team has erectedsmall, suspended, Plexiglas screens in a sensual Bordeaux red. Although this detracts somewhat from the open space of the interior, the bar hasn't lost any of its cosiness: to the contrary actually!
Simon-Dach-Strasse 36, 10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain
U Warschauer Straße
Website of Himmelreich
Capture in Friedrichshain: A Haven of Tolerance
Berlin's newest gay bar, The Capture, was established in 2019. It is located just around the corner from Himmelreich. From the outside, with its glass front, black tables and simple chairs visible through the windows,the bar may not appear very cosy at first. But the impression is deceptive, which becomes apparent when you enter the bar. Seated under wood-panelled ceilings, on leather benches, and beneath glass chandeliers, punters can savour the drinks, which are particularly good. Perhaps the great atmosphere is also down to the good music, which ranges from Cold Wave to Turkish songs. Or it could be due to the political statements scrawled on cardboard, or to the entrance area where the display case with the underpants of friends of bar owner Mehmet Balikci is located. Born in Baden-Württemberg, he is proud to be the first German-Turkish gay bar owner in Berlin, and also to have created a new haven of acceptance. It is this attribute that the mixed bar crowd senses with every sip. After all, "capture" means ‘to catch’ in German. The fact that everyone here has fun and enjoys life under one roof is evident, particularly when the guests spontaneously get up to dance!
Wühlischstraße 32, 10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain
U Warschauer Straße
Capture Bar’s Facebook page
Kumpelnest 3000 in Tiergarten: A Disco Ball steeped in History
If unicorns had built a State, the Kumpelnest would be their headquarters. It is as if you were entering the inside of a disco ball. It glitters and sparkles in every corner, whether it's the garish décor or the personalities of the dazzling guests. In addition, Berlin‘s history oozes from every crack and crevice. This legendary venue opened in 1987 and quickly became an artists' haunt, and is still considered the ‘best dive in Berlin’, attracting celebrities such as Kate Moss, Karl Lagerfeld, and Tödliche (Deadly) Doris. Since then, the diverse clientele has remained as eclectic as the music line-up, which ranges from Schlager to 90s pop. It gets packed here, especially on weekends. This Berlin institution, on the border between Tiergarten and Schöneberg, is always at the top of my must-visit list.
Lützowstraße 23, 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten
Kumpelnest 3000's Website
Sofia: Gay in Kreuzberg
Perhaps the Sofia Bar will go down in history as the pub with the ugliest logo font of all times. It looks like something from another century, with its spidery black lettering on a white background. The decor seems to have been designed by an interior designer with ADHD: the mud-green reliefs of women by the river adorn the walls, and penis lanterns and crumpled aluminium foil are suspended from the ceilings. It's a sea of kitschy-cool clutter as far as the eye can see. In short: everything here is so wonderfully ugly that it's become somehow quaintly chic again. Since the gay founders sold up, the crowd is not quite as queer as it once was, but it remains welcoming and charming. Old Kreuzbergers, left-wingers (gotta love the poster behind the bar: 'Barista, barista, antifascista'), newcomer hipsters, and the expat community meet here and celebrate a piece of Berlin that has remained true to itself, somewhere between anachronistic and nostalgic. It's cosy with a touch of melancholy. Unfortunately, Moscow Mules are not on offer here, but the Aperol Spritz costs a reasonable €5.50.
Wrangelstraße 93, 10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg
U Schlesisches Tor
Sofia's Facebook page
K-fetisch in Neukölln: Anti-bullshit Bar and Café
The k-fetisch is more of a café than a bar, although wine, beer and Aperol Spritz are also available here until late at night. For me it is one of the queerest queer locations in Berlin, because it is anti-nationalism, anti-racism, and anti-bullshit. The k-fetisch is a self-managed collective without managers. The delicious fairtrade coffee tastes even more political in this left-wing place that welcomes refugees. Activist events are held here (as long as this pandemic allows). These events have led to Nazi attacks in the past – but what Nazis hate can only be good! However, the expiring lease threatens the survival of this safe space. This would mean the end of sipping hot drinks on blue terrace benches, or on wooden chairs in rooms with fireplaces. Because the k-fetisch also caters for smokers, non-laptop users, game geeks. and alternative children's book lovers, it deserves support as one of the few truly alternative scene locations!
Wildenbruchstraße 86, 12045 Berlin-Neukölln
U Rathaus Neukölln
Want to know more about Berlin's gay bar culture? Tune in to the Place2be.Berlin Podcast (in German language). In this episode, we talk to Robert Manteufel, owner of the Marietta Bar in Prenzlauer Berg. The Marietta is one of the most popular gay meeting places in Berlin.
And this is how you get there: The Queer City Pass gives you a ticket for public transport - and on top of that a great discount with lots of partner companies!
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The Place2be.Berlin city map shows you interesting queer locations all over Berlin.
You can find a complete overview of all events for every single da on the event pages of SIEGESSÄULE, Berlin's famous queer city magazine.